How to cook chicken breast

How to cook chicken breast

Chicken breast is a popular cut thanks to its leanness and versatility. If cooked correctly, the meat can be tender and juicy. However, its lack of fat means it can also be prone to dryness. Buying skin-on chicken breasts offers extra flavour and fat from the skin, which can be crisped up either on the breast or separately, to use as a garnish for a salad, in a sandwich or to top more substantial dishes such as chicken risotto

What to look for when buying chicken breasts

We always recommend buying free-range chicken, due to the welfare concerns associated with cage-reared birds. The flavour of free-range chicken will also be far superior. We mainly consume the Sussex breed in the UK, but there are several other breeds worth looking out for, including the Bresse, Cornish hen and Black Leg.

How to cook chicken breast without drying it out

There are a few simple ways to cook chicken breast without it drying out, including poaching, steaming, pan frying and grilling (among others!) The key to keeping chicken breast succulent and juicy is to make sure you don’t overcook it. An instant read probe thermometer can be helpful here - chicken is fully cooked at 75ºC, which means you should remove it from the heat source at around 72ºC, as the internal temperature will continue to rise a little after cooking.

How to brine chicken breast

Brining a chicken breast means you eliminate the chances of dry meat. However, it does need a little advance planning. Brining is a particularly useful technique if you want to deep fry your chicken breast to make a fried chicken sandwich, for example, but it can also be handy for simply ensuring you get perfectly juicy chicken breasts, every time. The quantity of salt needed for a brine is based on a percentage of the total water weight and you will see different percentages used in different recipes. The best way to find your preference is to experiment! Here’s how to make a simple brine for chicken breasts.


Combine the salt and water and whisk until the salt is dissolved


Add the rosemary and garlic cloves


Place the chicken breasts into a container and pour over the solution, making sure they are fully submerged


Transfer to the fridge for 2 hours


Drain the brine and pat the chicken breasts dry before cooking

The GBC Kitchen guide to brining
How to make a brine
How to make a brine

There are many different flavours that can be added to brines - check out our guide to brining below to find out how soaking in a salt solution can change the texture and flavour of different meats and fish.

How to deep fry chicken breast

If you’ve brined a chicken breast, it’s quite likely you’ll also be breadcrumbing it for a chicken burger or chicken Kyiv. We like to double coat our chicken breast in breadcrumbs, to ensure it’s well sealed before frying. It’s also important to make sure your oil is hot enough - around 180ºC - before frying, otherwise the chicken will soak up the oil rather than cooking in it.

How to BBQ chicken breast

Winner winner chicken griller

Barbecued chicken breast also benefits from brining, as it doesn’t have the same fat as, for example, chicken thighs. Once brined however, it can be used to make kebabs, or cooked whole and served in sandwiches or as part of a larger barbecue spread.

How to pan fry chicken breast

One of the most popular methods of cooking chicken breasts is pan-frying. It’s quick, easy and will ensure a crisp, golden skin. Our video shows you how to cook chicken breasts like a professional chef, ensuring accurately cooked meat that’s basted with butter for maximum flavour.

Once your chicken breasts have been pan-fried they can be used in many dishes. We sometimes cook our chicken breasts under a weight, such as a heavy pan, to ensure the skin becomes super crisp and golden; they can be cooked mostly skin side down, then flipped over for a minute or so to finish cooking through.

How to poach chicken breast

While it may sound a little dull, poaching is a wonderful way to gently cook chicken breasts to retain the softness and delicacy of the meat. Salt and flavourings such as herbs, spices or aromatics such as garlic can be added to the poaching liquor, which itself can add flavour in the form of stock. It’s crucial to cook the chicken breast gently, as cooking it in aggressively boiling water will make the meat tough.

How to sous vide chicken breast

Succeed with sous vide

Another method of delicately cooking chicken breast is sous vide. If you have a sous vide machine at home, it’s easy to tightly control the cooking temperature. Lots of flavours can be added to the cooking bag along with the chicken, too. Watch our video guide to cooking chicken breast sous vide.

How to steam chicken breast

Steamed chicken breast may sound a little unappealing but it’s actually a lovely way to delicately cook this lean piece of meat. The key is to steam the chicken breast gently to prevent it becoming tough.

A versatile cut

The versatility of chicken breast is one of its main selling points and there are so many options for flavouring this adaptable meat. Try one of our recipes below or browse our full archive of chicken breast recipes for inspiration. 

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